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LAS VEGAS-The Stardust is dust. Literally. Early this morning, LVI Services Inc. demolished the 48-year-old 1,500-room casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip on behalf of locally headquartered Boyd Gaming. The resort’s two towers were imploded simultaneously at 2:30 a.m. local time. At 32 stories, the taller of the two towers was the tallest building ever imploded on the Las Vegas Strip, according to New York City-based LVI, which also demolished the Castaways, Sands, El Rancho, Desert Inn and original Aladdin casinos.

In all, LVI’s Las Vegas subsidiary was engaged to demolish 27 structures and remediate the 63- acre site in preparation for Echelon Place, a $4-billion complex of hotels, casinos, entertainment venues and shopping that is scheduled to open in 2010. The plan includes 5,300 rooms in four hotels, a 140,000-sf casino, theaters, a shopping promenade, spas and convention space.

Within the $4-billion Echelon Place will be the $2.9-billion Echelon Resort, which would be wholly owned by Boyd. Echelon Resort will include 3,300 of the 5,300 rooms in two high-rise towers, each with its own full-service spa, as well as the casino, two theaters (one with 4,000 seats and the other with 1,500 seats), 25 restaurants and bars, and a pool area.

The rest of Echelon Place would be developed via joint ventures and include three additional hotels, a 750,000-sf outpost of the Las Vegas ExpoCenter, another 200,000 sf of retail space, and several more restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The property also will have covered parking for 8,000 vehicles.

Boyd Gaming has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with the Morgans Hotel Group for two of the Echelon Place hotels, which will cost about $700 million, and has inked a management agreement with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for the third. As for the project’s retail component, Boyd has been in discussions with potential strategic partners for a 50/50 joint venture development but has not yet made any announcement.

Among many other things, the Stardust was the setting for the award-winning Hollywood movie “Casino.” LVI began its demolition of the property in December, removing 100,000 sf of asbestos from the site. By the time cleanup is completed eight weeks from now, approximately 170,000 tons of debris will have been removed from the site, approximately 80% of which will be recycled.

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